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Monday, July 31, 2017

The Great Treehouse War, written by Lisa Graff. Philomel, Penguin. 2017. $18.99 ages 8 and up

"Winnie read it.

 As she read, a thought began to bloom in Winnie's mind. The thought was small at first, like a seed. But by the time she woke up the next morning, that letter still clutched tight in her hand, the thoughts had bloomed, huge like a sunflower. And suddenly, Winnie knew precisely what she needed to do."

Winnie's parents have divorced. Winnie is bearing the brunt of the situation that pits one parent against the other to prove who loves her more and to ensure that each gets exactly the same amount of time with a beloved daughter! Neither appears to care how Winnie is being affected by their continuous, contentious battle. They make the decisions; Winnie is meant to go along with whatever they decide.

To say it is hard is a vast understatement. The decision made by the parents to live in two separate houses on one small cul-de-sac which has those two houses and a treed space between them suits them fine. Winnie is with one parent three days a week, the other three days a week. On Wednesdays, she spends the day in a treehouse constructed in the huge tree between her parents' homes. Winnie loves Wednesdays and puts up with the celebrations her parents create for every other day of the week - that is what a good daughter is expected to do, isn't it?

One day Winnie decides that enough is enough! She has had it with obscure holiday celebrations, her parents unrelenting battle, and a lack of time to keep up with her schoolwork. She finds solace and independence in her treehouse, refusing to come down until her parents meet her demands. In a show of support, and because they also want their parents to know they are unhappy with decisions being made for them, her nine fifth grade school friends join her. It's a strike! It grabs attention. A legal blip keeps them there, away from angry parents and interested onlookers.

Their parents resort to bright lights and loud music every night, wanting to disturb their sleep and force them to come to their senses. The atmosphere in the treehouse becomes more and more tense for all living there. Winnie, with guidance from a very special uncle who recognizes her very special talent, helps her friends realize they are needed at home. Only then can she help her parents see the error of their ways.

Readers are sure to enjoy this memoir of a trying time for the Tulip Street Ten. It's fun to read the sticky notes, maps, messages, recipes, cartoons, how-tos; they help establish character and provide fodder for thinking about friendship, family and upheaval.

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